The nonpartisan Project On Government Oversight received unexpectedly positive reviews when it spoke to soldiers who served in Strykers and appreciated the vehicles’ capabilities and stealth. Russian analyst Vasiliy Fofanov, who wasn’t generally inclined to give American equipment in Iraq high marks, likewise gave a positive review of the vehicle.
Now a conference call from Mosul has added more specifics to the soldiers’ review, and so has a recent article in National Defense Magazine.
The challenge: build a robotic vehicle that can successfully navigate a (132 mile) course across the Mojave Desert in less than 10 hours without human intervention, selecting its route, staying on course, and avoiding a challenging set of obstacles placed in its way by the good people of DARPA.
I didn’t expect to be writing this article before 2010. In 2004, after all, nobody won – or even finished. In 2005, however, we have a winner. Four winners and five finishers, actually, though only the first place team collected the reward. Stanford/Volkswagen’s Tuareg “Stanley” beat out the Carnegie-Mellon University Red Team’s two Headless Hummers, and the Ford Escape Hybrid run by plucky New Orleans-based Team Gray. Oshkosh Truck’s huge TerraMax, meanwhile, used a slow-but-steady strategy until its last-leg sprint and finished in a little under 13 hours. So, why is this significant?
In April 2005, L-3 Communicatons subsidiary Interstate Electronics Corp. in Anaheim, CA was placed under criminal investigation for providing faulty parts to the CSEL search and rescue GPS/ beacon/ communicators used by US aviators, special forces teams, et. al. – and concealing test failures.
So, naturally, they’ve just been awarded a contract to support the test instrumentation hardware for most of America’s nuclear missile fleet, and all of Britain’s.
Federal Computer Week notes that “Defense and industry officials describe DOD networks as the Achilles’ heel of the powerful U.S. military. Securing military networks is even more critical in an increasingly transformed military in which information is as much a weapon as tanks and assault rifles.”
The US DoD operates approximately 3.5 million PCs and 100,000 local-area networks at 1,500 sites in 65 countries, and it runs thousands of applications on 35, major voice, video and data networks. Department officials acknowledged to FCW.com that hackers attacked military networks almost 300 times in 2003, and the DoD tallied almost 75,000 incidents on department networks last year. FCW.com writes: